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Kiko Narváez: Atlético's magician on the ball

He saved Cádiz from relegation, he won an Olympic gold medal and he won the double with Atlético. But despite his height, the forward was revered for his feet and not his head.

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Beliefs are funny things. We accept that something exists or is true despite not having proof. We trust that belief and subconsciously apply that pseudo-logic in our lives. And, when challenged, we often defend it with passion rather than rationale, with anger rather than with facts.

One look at the 190 cm (6'2'') tall Kiko and you'd believe that he would be good in the air. But watch him play and even the most stubborn observer would have to praise his tremendous technical ability and field vision, while acknowledging his poor aerial game.

It was almost fitting that every time he scored, he did the archer celebration.

Kiko Narváez was born in Jerez de la Frontera, and played for Xerez until the age of 10. Since some of his friends who would walk from La Granja to Chapín didn't get into the team, they all made their own team called UFRA, or the Unión de Feos y Raros Andaluces (Union of Ugly and Rare Andalusians). Of them, some were picked up by the club and Kiko himself moved to Pueblo Nuevo. At the age of 13, it was the other club in Jerez, Cádiz, that picked him up.

It was at Cádiz where he graduated, and where he made his senior debut in La Liga at the age of 18, in the 1990-91 season. Even though he played in only five further matches in the season he was intimately connected with the Andalusia club's fate as, on 9 June, in only 25 minutes of play, he gained a penalty kick and scored an 83rd minute winner in a 2–1 home win over Real Zaragoza; the team would miraculously retain their top-flight status after the playoffs against Málaga.

Two more seasons as an undisputed starter followed, but Kiko was unable to save Cádiz from relegation in 1993. And clubs were lining up to snap him up - after all, he was already a national treasure. Kiko was part of the Olympic team that won gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. In the final against Poland, it was Kiko who scored the winning goal in the last minute of the match, as Spain won 3-2.

Despite moving to Atlético Madrid along with teammate José María Quevedo, fans of Cádiz still revere him - with nicknames such as Kikogol and Kiko van Basten.

His first two seasons in Madrid were turbulent, coinciding with the turbulence at the club itself. Nine different managers, in ten different managerial stints, over those two seasons alone meant that Kiko didn't always get into the team. And while he still scored five goals in the first season and nine in the second, there were always rumors that he would move on to a bigger club.

However, the arrival of Radomir Antić to the bench in the 1995-96 season ended those rumors. The Serbian coach put his full faith in the cadista, and he duly delivered. It was one of the most historic seasons in the club's history, still remember fondly as "El Doblete" - the league and the Copa del Rey - was captured. Kiko (11 goals) and Luboslav Penev (16 goals) formed one of the deadliest forward partnerships of the decade in a team that also included José Luis Pérez Caminero, José Francisco Molina, Milinko Pantić and, of course, Diego Simeone.

The following season, although less successful in terms of titles, was one of the best in Kiko's career. While the team only reached fifth place in the league, Kiko scored 13 goals in 36 games, and two goals across seven Champions League games - a competition from which Atlético were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Ajax.

Atlético was relegated in 2000, but Kiko stayed with the club for a further campaign, somewhat infamously failing to score a single goal in 52 league appearances. Two months into the 2000-01 campaign, with the club in the relegation places that would send them down to Segunda B, Kiko traveled to Italy to sign for AC Milan, but his battered ankle prevented his signing for the Rossoneri - something that gave him a bad reputation in some sections of the fanbase.

At the end of the season, he was set to sign for Lazio, but the Rome club purchased Valencia midfielder Gaizka Mendieta instead was carried out instead, the club using his fitness problems against him. Kiko ended his Atlético career with 48 goals across 225 league games.

He would go on to play the last six months of the 2001-02 season with Extremadura in the second division after an offer from Southampton failed to materialize. Despite forming an amazing partnership with Pier Luigi Cherubino, Extremadura were relegated, and Kiko's ankles finally gave in. He was finished as a player at 30 years old.

There were a few fans who saw his ability on the ball and nicknamed him "El Mago del Balón" - "The Magician on the Ball" - for his vision, for his ability to get past defenders with surprising agility and technique. But many fans will always remember him for his celebration, which both Fernando Torres and current Cádiz forward Daniel Güiza have carried on as a tribute. For those fans, Kiko Narváez will always be El Arquero.

The Archer.